Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Writing Assignments of Administrators


The Writing Assignments of Administrators

By Professor Doom


Ethics Reflection
Qualitative Data Collection and Analysis
Statistical Analyses


--From the course syllabus. The other 40% of the grade is from the stilted discussions on the message board…apparently there are people that will post on the board on the behalf of the future administrator, for a small fee.


     The first assignment, Ethics Reflection, is a significant writing assignment, 8 to 10 pages, double spaced. That’s about two of my essays . There are no tests in the course, no means by which the professor could establish that I know anything. This paper, assuming I didn’t wish to just hire someone else to write it for me, is to address five issues, often, according to the rubric, asking for examples to demonstrate understanding of the issues.


I would like to rewrite my report ( account management) as it was detected plagiarized. Total word count is 3548 and need to finish within 2 days…


--Administration student looking to hire help on his paper. Being caught cheating didn’t deter the student or get him expelled. Obviously. I might be working for this guy. If so, if I caught a cheater, I’m sure he’d tell me to just let the student “rewrite” the paper, much like he did…


Here’s What I Need to Write:


     Getting my stopwatch ready, I time myself to see how long it would take to write this paper:

     I must first mention what general characteristics of qualitative and quantitative research methods could propose ethical issues, along with examples and ideas on how to rectify such issues. For example, a qualitative research project could easily deal with personal opinions and observations, and might cause a subject to reveal more than he initially intended. Emphasis in these types of studies should be placed on anonymity, so that a subject doesn’t inadvertently incur difficulty upon himself (for example, a subject that indicates he feels attraction for 10 year old girls could easily face discrimination if identified, even if he’s never engaged in any illegal or even immoral behavior), making it more difficult for the subject to exceed the informed consent agreement. The research design could also allow opportunity for the subject to amend any information he gives.

     Second, the paper must describe three strengths and weaknesses of qualitative and quantitative research methods, as they relate to ethics. These are pretty much detailed in the readings for the course. Quantitative methods make provision of anonymity particularly easy, addressing many ethical issues; however, applying the results of such methods can be devastating to particular individuals. It’s simple to establish from medical tests, for example, that over 99.9% of the population has no particular allergy to peanuts…putting peanut-based products into commonly eaten items can be rather devastating to those few individuals with a life-threatening allergy to peanuts, however.

     Third, the paper is to address why it is important for a research methodology to support a question in terms of ethics. Probably the most important reason is if the methodology is found to be unethical, it will be impossible to replicate the results since the study cannot be repeated, making any results from the research utterly worthless.

     Next, the paper must discuss why it is important that the data collection methods support the research methodology. This is fairly obvious; if the data collection doesn’t support the methodology, any results that are somehow obtained would be questionable, and getting those results might be very difficult. A study examining regional tendencies towards personal color preference or racial discrimination will get no results if your data isn’t collected with respect to identifying those regions, and to identifying colors, and may get skewed results regarding discrimination if there isn’t some anonymity in the collection.


Project Name: I need help in my Phd topic
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--a student request for “help” from a professional writer. It isn’t always Education and Administration majors that hire writers for these courses, although a few students in the Educational Research Methods course write about as well as this student. The professor is punished for catching cheaters, but if accreditors saw how the students write in general, perhaps they would wonder at how the papers are so much nicer.



     Finally, the paper asks what the student can do to expedite the Institutional Review Board (IRB) process. The Institutional Review Board approves all research projects (recall, this course may be the final course before proceeding with the dissertation). Obviously, the student should follow the guidelines of the IRB to the absolute letter, and should prepare his research application with an eye towards anticipating, and answering, questions regarding all aspects of his research, especially ethical considerations.

     My light outline above, addressing each topic, is nearly two pages, and took about forty minutes to write (it’s basically my first draft, verifying I had all I needed to write the paper). The 8 to 10 page, double spaced paper cost me an afternoon, as these are basic questions, requiring no actual research.  I just regurgitate the knowledge that’s in the book, using more words. Granted, I’m a fast writer, but even a relatively slow Ph.D. level writer isn’t going to take more than eight hours, a weekend at absolute most. So, for this one week, we’re clearly at the 10 hours of effort level for the relatively slow Administrative Ph.D. student.


“We really need to do this right so that SACS [accreditation] won’t have a follow-up. If they ask for a follow-up, I have to write a bunch of things that just aren’t true.”


--administrator encouraging the faculty to provide good assessment data. Even though all we supplied was grossly manipulated and openly fraudulent data, it apparently was good enough that administration wouldn’t be required to lie more.


     While it is nice to have institutional bosses write a paper on ethical considerations on research, it seems like something on integrity would be good. A whole course devoted to “Don’t enroll every mentally disabled person you can just to maximize those sweet student loan checks” would be well recommended.

     The first major assignment is little different than a high school term paper. Let’s take a look at the second writing assignment.


Another paper.

·         ix) Introduction of research.

·         xix) Research question.

·         1) Prepare and organize the data.

·         2) Review and explore the data.

·         3) Code data into categories.

·         4) Construct thick descriptions of people, places, and activities.

·         5) Build themes and test hypotheses.

·         6) Report and interpret data.

·         7) Conclusion.

--from the instructions, addressing these concepts in the paper should take 7 to 10 pages, double spaced, not counting appendices and references, which add another few pages (much of it is transcribed material). This essay is that long.


     This paper relies on work done earlier in the course, where one creates a hypothetical research question (actual example question from the book, which I used: “How did you discover your talent for cooking?” I repeat: actual example of course material for this Ph.D. level course) and conducts a mock interview with a friend (in my case, girlfriend) or family member to get qualitative information. After each section 1 through 6 (the new material for this assignment), the student is to prepare a paragraph or two of discussion on his own thoughts of the process. I honestly feel like a child imitating the adults with this assignment, as I’m simply going through the motions in a pretend assignment, spelled out completely in the course textbook. This assignment is the writing equivalent of “paint by numbers”…I just follow the instructions and the paper writes itself.

     The first three sections are fairly basic: record the data, assemble it into various displays (like a chart, or a sequential listing, or some other thing—qualitative data has fewer non-graphical ways of being shown), try to eyeball some patterns or relationships. All three steps, together, are described in perfect detail in three pages (total) in the course textbook.

     Step four is the hardest part, I suppose. A ‘thick’ description is discussed in two paragraphs in the text: the researcher is to give detailed descriptions of all the other factors not specifically identified in the research question. Types of clothing the subject(s) wore, the weather, the background noises, and so on, helping to give a visual, auditory, even olfactory image (reasonable for cooking, as my girlfriend’s pantry smells of India) of the researcher’s topic. Providing such in-depth descriptions of the physical setting for the research helps to later identify possible confounding factors, I suppose, although the “why” is never really addressed. The benefit to writing thick descriptions, according to the text, is to “make readers feel like they’re living the experiences described.” This doesn’t seem to be one of the key concepts of research mentioned earlier, but I mindlessly do it.

     Theme-building refers to the using of key phrases or code words to help explain the underlying questions guiding the research. The researcher is to identify patterns in the raw data, to simplify it into “seven to eight” (that’s directly from the book) themes.

     Next comes reporting and interpreting the data, giving the researcher’s interpretation of what the data mean. Such conclusions are subjective, of course, but in a qualitative study this might be unavoidable to some extent.

    The course textbook highlights exactly what to do, with examples, for each of these steps; there is nothing in the book on “conclusion,” although it’s part of the assignment. The course instructions for the conclusion indicate the student is to address why this method of data collection (the interview) is useful for gaining the type of information in the research.

      In 20 years of dealing with Administration, not a single time have I seen this method of research being used for anything in higher education. Ever.

     Since qualitative research is completely out of my experience, writing this all out in detail takes a full eight hours of effort (again, the book gives a walkthrough, making each step very easy once the data is collected). That might not be a fair assessment, as the data collection, done earlier, also took some time. Ten hours covers the entire assignment from scratch. While the first assignment was basically high school work, this is a fair assignment, a real first year of college level paper, training a student in basic skills. With everything being qualitative, it’s all but impossible to get this assignment “wrong,” however. The textbook does a very good job here, clearly explaining and providing examples of what to do, even if it doesn’t address “why” nearly enough. Overall, the assignment feels like a warm-up for a real assignment, one that never comes.


Project Name: Lesson Plans

Project Description:

Hi, I have this assignment that is 6-8 pages that is due Monday...Somebody was supposed to do it for me for $80, but…she is no longer able to do it for me. Can you please look at the details and let me know if you are able to do it and if we can stay for the long run? Please include a Reference page and use APA format for the assignment. I have attached all the pages and chapters that you might need Thanks!Final Project- Due Monday, May 9, 2011Your final assignment for EDU…


--Education student looking to hire a writer, “for the long run”. Despite, possibly because of, how simple the writing assignments are in the research methods course, it would be trivial for me to hire someone else to do it if I were so inclined.  



      While qualitative research is interesting, even more interesting is how administrators completely disregard all qualitative issues despite this sort of training; every measure they use is quantitative, or quickly converted to quantitative. Student appreciation of teaching, for example, is converted to a 1 to 5 scale, even if a “totally awesome” teacher can’t possibly be merely five times as good as a “completely terrible” teacher. Ultimately all education, as qualitative a subject as it gets, is identified by retention rate, at least for administrative eyes. In any event, I’m not sure if students really need administrators to be able to write basic qualitative research papers, even as I acknowledge it takes some effort to do so.

     Regardless, while this paper took some time to prepare, anyone who can read and write at a basic level can follow along with the book’s instructions and present at least a passing attempt at a paper without any particular knowledge or skills.

      Only one assignment remains in this advanced, 8000 level, course for Adminstration students before they get their Ph.D.s. The last assignment is where I have an advantage, as it uses actual statistics. Rather, I would have an advantage, but much like the papers above, no knowledge or skill is necessary to complete the assignment…in fact the assignment is so insultingly simple that I’ll save a whole essay just to address in detail how ridiculous it is.

      Until then, realize that the most advanced course requires literally no knowledge, tests on no knowledge, and the writing involved can be easily sub-contracted out to a writer-for-hire. And yet people get these degrees, and use the degrees they get from these programs as justification for jobs that easily break the $100,000 a year mark. So, my question for today: how does accreditation approve these courses and programs? Hint: administrators run accreditation.


Think about it.





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